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Entries in Fast & Furious (10)

Tuesday
Jun122012

Cornyn Calls on Holder to Resign ‎Over Fast & Furious

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign Tuesday over the Fast and Furious gun  scandal.

Holder was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee where Cornyn expressed his views that the attorney general has not been honest and has been overly political.

“You have defied the lawful and legitimate oversight responsibilities of the House of Representatives and the Senate. You’ve resisted producing documents, you produced about 7,600 out of a pool of at least 80,000 documents,” Cornyn said about documents the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is trying to obtain from the Justice Department as part of the Fast and Furious investigation.

“There’s been zero accountability at the Department of Justice. You won't appoint a special prosecutor in the face of a potential conflict of interest. You won't tell the truth about what you know and when you knew it on Fast and Furious. You wont cooperate with  a legitimate congressional investigation. You won’t answer my questions about gun walking in Texas. You won’t take any responsibility for the failure of your inner circle.”

“You still resist coming clean about what you knew and when you knew it with regard to Operation Fast and Furious.  You won’t cooperate with a legitimate congressional investigation, and you won’t hold anyone, including yourself, accountable.  Your department blocks states from implementing attempts to combat voter fraud.  In short, you’ve violated the public trust, in my view, and by failing and refusing to perform the duties of your office,” Cornyn said.

“So, Mr. Attorney General, it’s more with sorrow than regret or anger that I would say you leave me with no alternative but to join those that call upon you to resign your office,” Cornyn told Holder. “Americans deserve an attorney general that will be honest with them.”

“With all due respect, senator, there is so much factually wrong with the premises you started your statement with it’s almost breathtaking in its inaccuracies,” Holder responded.

“I’m the attorney general that put an end to the misguided tactics that were used in Fast and Furious,” Holder said.

“I am also the attorney general who called on an inspector general to look into this matter, to investigate this matter. I’m also the attorney general who made personnel changes at ATF and in the U.S. Attorney’s Office that was involved. I’ve overseen the changes of processes and procedures within ATF to make sure that this doesn’t happen ever again. So I don’t have any intention of resigning. I heard the White House press officer say yesterday that the president has absolute confidence in me. I don’t have any reason to believe that that, in fact, is not — is not the case,” Holder said.

Holder said that the department has been forthcoming with information provided to Congress, “I am willing to sit down and talk about the provision of more materials.”

Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said Monday that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee would hold a vote on June 20 to consider a move to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress. Issa has alleged that the Justice Department has not responded to the committee’s subpoena seeking internal DOJ documents following the drafting of a Feb. 4, 2011 letter that contained inaccurate information about ATF’s operations.

Earlier in the hearing Holder said he was open to negotiating with Issa.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb022012

Threatened with Contempt, Attorney General Holder to Testify on Fast and Furious Scandal

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Embattled Attorney General Eric Holder will take the hot seat again on Thursday in what is expected to be a contentious hearing over the botched ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) gun running operation “Fast and Furious” before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The committee has been investigating the actions by ATF and Justice Department officials into the gun trafficking case that resulted in about 2,000 guns being allowed to go to drug cartels and criminal groups in Mexico.  The ATF operation took a tragic toll when two guns linked to the operation were found near slain U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry on Dec. 14, 2010.

On Tuesday, the committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., threatened to hold Holder in contempt of Congress, claiming that the Justice Department has been withholding documents related to the congressional inquiry into Fast and Furious.

“If the department continues to obstruct the congressional inquiry by not providing documents and information, this committee will have no alternative but to move forward with proceedings to hold you in contempt of Congress,” Issa wrote to Holder.

Issa also addressed concerns he had over the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, proposing a cross-border operation with Mexican law enforcement officials to make arrests of gun straw purchasers on the border.

Issa is giving the Justice Department until Feb. 9 to turn over the requested documents. Critics also claim that emerging inter-agency emails contradict testimony Holder gave about his knowledge of the operation.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department responded with Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole writing to Issa.

“Your criticisms of the Department, in general, and Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Lanny Breuer, in particular, seem predicated on significant misunderstandings…of the documents we recently produced,” Cole wrote.

Cole also defended Breuer, noting, “It is inconceivable that his intention was to have guns released into Mexico.”

Cole wrote that the Justice Department has cooperated with Issa’s investigation and has provided numerous resources, telling the committee that the department has provided more than 6,400 pages of material, made numerous witnesses available to testify, and had a team of lawyers collecting and reviewing requests and documents for the investigation. Issa and other critics claim the documents are slow in coming, and usually are "dumped" on Fridays, in an attempt for the documents to avoid scrutiny.

In prepared testimony, Holder on Thursday is expected to repeat many of the same points he has made before and to emphasize reforms at the ATF.

“If some of my comments today sound familiar, it is because this marks the sixth time I have answered questions about this operation before a congressional committee in the last year,” Holder’s prepared testimony reads.

Holder also is expected to repeat, “something that cannot be said often enough: Allowing guns to ‘walk’ -- whether in this administration or in the prior one -- is wholly unacceptable.” However, documents are proving that's exactly what the agencies did, and Holder will be hard pressed to prove he had no knowlege of it.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec092011

AG Eric Holder to Congress: 'Lying' About Fast and Furious 'A State of Mind'

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Congressman Darrell Issa, R-CA, declared Attorney General Eric Holder a "hostile witness" before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday as Holder testified about the botched gun trafficking operation called Fast and Furious run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Issa, who serves on the judiciary committee, has been leading the Congressional inquiry into the ATF operation as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.  He said that not all documents have been provided to his Committee's investigators and he wanted to know why no emails to or from Holder appeared in the thousands of pages of documents that the Justice Department (DOJ) has provided to Congress.

"There is not one email that is yours," Issa said, surrounded by boxes of documents that the DOJ has provided to his staff.

Issa indicated that he may subpoena Holder and other top Justice Department officials to testify before his committee in January.  Holder said that the DOJ has provided unprecedented information to Congress and that he would consider the request to appear before Issa's committee.

In his prepared testimony, Holder called Fast and Furious "inexcusable," and said the operation run by the ATF made use of "misguided tactics."

In asking why a Department of Justice letter to Congress was withdrawn last week, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner pressed Holder, reminding him that lying to Congress constitutes a federal felony. "There have been statements [made to Congress by the Justice Department] that have been so misleading that a letter had to be withdrawn," Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said. "...Heads should roll."

Holder insisted, "Nobody at the Justice Department lied," and then when pressed about, "the difference between lying and misleading congress" by Sensenbrenner, Holder explained, "It all has to do with your state of mind."

Congress has been investigating Fast and Furious and how the ATF ran the gun trafficking operation that resulted in a reported 1,800 firearms flowing into Mexico. Two were found at the scene of the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed by Mexican drug smugglers on Dec. 14, 2010.

Testifying on Thursday, Holder said that the operation was organized by ATF in Phoenix and did not originate out of Washington or from orders out of Justice Department headquarters.

He claims that he became aware of the operation sometime in the beginning of 2011 and directed the Justice Department Inspector General to conduct a formal inquiry after learning about the tactics used in Fast and Furious and getting some conflicting information from media reports and Congressional inquires.  The Inspector General's review is expected to be released sometime early next year.

And despite calls from some members of Congress for his resignation, Holder -- who rolled his eyes and slouched defiantly in his seat throughout his testimony -- said on Thursday that he had no intention to resign over the Fast and Furious controversy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec082011

Fast and Furious Scandal: DOJ Official Faces Heat, Eric Holder to Testify

Sen. Charles Grassley. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, demanded on Wednesday that the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division resign over the controversial Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' gun trafficking program known as Fast and Furious.

Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer has provided inaccurate statements and information to Congress on Fast and Furious, which allowed thousands of weapons to flow into Mexico.

ATF officials say they hoped to track the guns to their ultimate destination, and then make arrests.  Instead, many of the guns were used in crimes, including one that was used in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in December 2010.

In recent months, ongoing Congressional investigations have focused on what senior Justice Department officials knew about the program. Attorney General Eric Holder -- who some accuse of misleading Congress about his involvement in the scandal -- is set to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday to testify again about it. Emails prove Holder was far more involved -- and for far longer -- than he previously admitted.

Last Friday, the Justice Department withdrew a Feb. 4, 2011 letter that was sent to Sen. Grassley that asserted that ATF did not let guns walk into Mexico.

Breuer has said that he was not involved in the review or drafting of the letter sent to Grassley’s office --despite emails showing that he was aware of the initial inquiry from Sen. Grassley and sending drafts of the letter to his personal non-government email account.

“So imagine my surprise when I discover from documents provided Friday night that Mr. Breuer was far more informed during the drafting of that letter than he admitted before the Judiciary Committee.  In fact, Mr. Breuer got frequent updates on the status of the letter while he was in Mexico.” Grassley said on the Senate floor.  “If you can’t be straight with Congress, you don’t need to be running the Criminal Division.  It’s time to stop spinning and start taking responsibility.  I have long said that the highest-ranking official who knew about gunwalking in Operation Fast and Furious needs to be held accountable.”

In a statement, Justice Department Director of Public Affairs Tracy Schmaler said, “Assistant Attorney General Breuer has acknowledged his mistake in not making -- and therefore not alerting Department leadership to -- a connection between the allegations made about Operation Fast and Furious and the unacceptable tactics used years earlier in Operation Wide Receiver.  He has acknowledged that mistake to Congress and to the Attorney General, who continues to have confidence in Assistant Attorney General Breuer’s ability to lead the Criminal Division.”

According to a CBS News report, documents show ATF authorities sought to use U.S. weapons found in Mexico -- guns it allowed to flow over the border -- as justification to stiffen gun laws in the U.S.

Wednesday
Dec072011

Grassley Wants DOJ Official to Resign in Fast and Furious Scandal

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Wednesday demanded the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division resign over the controversial ATF gun trafficking program known as Fast and Furious.

Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer has provided inaccurate statements and information to Congress on Fast and Furious and a Bush-era gun running case called Wide Receiver in which the ATF also let guns walk into Mexico.

Under the botched program hundreds of guns flowed into Mexico.  ATF officials say they hoped to track the guns to their ultimate destination, and then make arrests. Instead, many of the guns were used in crimes, including one that was used in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in December 2010.

In recent months ongoing congressional investigations have focused on what senior Justice Department officials knew about the program.  Attorney General Eric Holder is set to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday to testify about the scandal. Last Friday the Justice Department withdrew a Feb. 4, 2011 letter that was sent to Sen. Grassley that asserted that ATF did not let guns walk into Mexico.

Breuer has said that he was not involved in the review or drafting of the letter sent to Grassley’s office despite emails showing that he was aware of the initial inquiry from Sen. Grassley and sending drafts of the letter to his personal non-government email account.

“So imagine my surprise when I discover from documents provided Friday night that that Mr. Breuer was far more informed during the drafting of that letter than he admitted before the Judiciary Committee. In fact, Mr. Breuer got frequent updates on the status of the letter while he was in Mexico,” Grassley said on the Senate floor.  “If you can’t be straight with Congress, you don’t need to be running the Criminal Division. It’s time to stop spinning and start taking responsibility. I have long said that the highest-ranking official who knew about gun-walking in Operation Fast and Furious needs to be held accountable.”

In November, Breuer admitted that he made mistakes after being briefed last year about questionable tactics from Wide Receiver by not raising the issue with senior DOJ leadership as prosecutors moved to indict the case in 2010.

“At the time, I thought that -- dealing with the leadership of ATF was sufficient and reasonable,” Breuer told the Senate Judiciary committee last month when he was asked why he did not raise the issue to DOJ leadership,  “I thought that that was the appropriate way of dealing with it. But I cannot be more clear that knowing now -- if I’d known then what I know now, I of course would have told the deputy and the attorney general.”

In a statement, Justice Department Director of Public Affairs Tracy Schmaler said, “Assistant Attorney General Breuer has acknowledged his mistake in not making -- and therefore not alerting Department leadership to -- a connection between the allegations made about Operation Fast and Furious and the unacceptable tactics used years earlier in Operation Wide Receiver.  He has acknowledged that mistake to Congress and to the Attorney General, who continues to have confidence in Assistant Attorney General Breuer’s ability to lead the Criminal Division.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov092011

AG Eric Holder Admits Errors in ATF’s Fast and Furious Operation

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder apologized to lawmakers on Tuesday for an inaccurate report his office sent to Capitol Hill about the controversial Fast and Furious operation.

Justice Department lawyers provided Sen. Charles Grassley’s office with information about the tactic of guns being walked into Mexico in the controversial Fast and Furious operation, run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The program was designed to track guns bought in the U.S. by strawmen and delivered to drug cartels in Mexico, in an attempt to catch the cartel higher-ups.  Started in 2009, it was shut down after the Dec. 2010 murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

But it turns out the letter submitted to Grassley in February, which stated the U.S. government had not allowed weapons to enter Mexico, was wrong.

“There was information in that letter that was inaccurate.  The letter could have been better crafted, we were relying on … information provided to them by people who were, we thought, in the best position to know what was accurate,” Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

In a Feb. 4, 2011, letter sent to Grassley and his staff, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote, “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation to Mexico.”

Congress has been investigating Fast and Furious and how ATF ran the botched gun trafficking operation that resulted in a reported 1,800 firearms flowing into Mexico.  Two were found at the scene of the murder of Terry, who was killed by Mexican drug smugglers on Dec. 14, 2010.

The Congressional investigation and ATF agents who blew the whistle on the controversial tactics used in Fast and Furious have shown that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona and ATF officials knew that guns were allowed to walk into Mexico as part of the operation.

“People in the U.S. Attorneys’ Office, people at ATF, people who themselves have now indicated in their Congressional testimony before the House that they were not aware of the tactics that were employed.  As a result of that, the information that is contained in the Feb. 4 letter to you was not in fact accurate…. I regret that,” Holder said.

Holder denounced the tactics used in the operation, telling Senators, “This operation was flawed in its concept and flawed in its execution.  And unfortunately, we will feel the effects for years to come, as guns that were lost during this operation continue to show up at crime scenes, both here and in Mexico.  This should never have happened, and it must never happen again.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov082011

NRA Turns Up Heat on AG Holder for 'Fast and Furious' Controversy

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The National Rifle Association is turning up the heat on Attorney General Eric Holder, running television ads charging that he committed perjury in Congressional testimony about the controversial “Fast and Furious” undercover, gun-running operation.  The ad calls on President Obama to fire Holder.

Things could get even hotter for the attorney general on Tuesday, when he returns to Congress to be questioned again about Fast and Furious.

The NRA ad is the latest salvo in a battle between critics in Congress and the Justice Department on the controversial “gun-walking” operation.  Run by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Fast and Furious involved tracking weapons sold to straw purchasers, who then passed the guns along to their hidden buyers in the Mexican drug cartels.

Hundreds of guns flowed into Mexico under the program, while ATF agents watched and did nothing.  The ATF says it hoped to track the guns to their ultimate destination, and then make arrests.  Instead, many of the guns were used in crimes, including one that was used in the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

The controversy has focused on testimony Holder provided to the House Judiciary Committee on May 3, 2011.  During that hearing, Rep. Darell Issa, R-Calif., who is spearheading the Congressional investigation, asked Holder, “When did you first know about the program officially, I believe, called Fast and Furious?  To the best of your knowledge, what date?”

Holder answered: “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released last month a series of Justice Department memos sent to Holder’s office going back to July 2010, that made reference about the gun trafficking investigation being run out of Arizona.

Justice Department officials say the memos are only generic updates and offer no detail or specifics of ATF strategies to allow the guns to pass in large numbers.

Holder has stood by his previous statements, writing to members of Congress on Oct. 7, “Much has been made in the past few days about my Congressional testimony earlier this year regarding Fast and Furious.  My testimony was truthful and accurate and I have been consistent on this point throughout.  I have no recollection of knowing about Fast and Furious or of hearing its name prior to the public controversy about it."

In prepared testimony released Monday evening, Holder reiterates previous comments about the flawed operation in a statement, asserting, “This operation was flawed in concept, as well as in execution.  And, unfortunately, we will feel its effects for years to come as guns that were lost during this operation continue to show up at crimes scenes both here and in Mexico.  This should never have happened.  And it must never happen again.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct192011

Obama: 'Fast and Furious' Blunderers 'Will Be Held Accountable'

ABC News(JAMESTOWN, N.C.) -- As the Justice Department investigates how U.S. guns were allowed to flow illicitly into Mexico under the watchful eyes of federal agents, President Obama said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with ABC News that “people who have screwed up will be held accountable.”

“Our overarching goal consistently has been to say we’ve got a responsibility not only to stop drugs from flowing north, we’ve also got a responsibility to make sure we are not helping to either arm or finance these drug cartels in Mexico,” Obama said in an interview with ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper.

“It’s very upsetting to me to think that somebody showed such bad judgment that they would allow something like that to happen,” he said.  “And we will find out who and what happened in this situation and make sure it gets corrected.”

Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have come under scrutiny by some Congressional Republicans who allege high-ranking administration officials were aware of the program -- known as “Fast and Furious” -- and its flaws, but did not intervene.

Of the thousands of guns involved in the operation, several reportedly have ties to violent crimes in Mexico and along the U.S. border, including the murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

Earlier this month, Obama said he has “complete confidence” in Holder to oversee a Justice Department investigation into the gun-running operation, but the Attorney General has been accused of stonewalling -- and even perjuring himself about what he knew and when he knew it -- by those delving into the operation.

“I have complete confidence in him," Obama said of Holder at a news conference on Oct. 6, "and I’ve got complete confidence in the process to figure out who, in fact, was responsible for that decision and how it got made."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul252011

ATF Agents in Mexico Kept in Dark About Gun Trafficking, Fast & Furious Op

Thinkstock/Comstock)(WASHINGTON) -- The ATF office in Phoenix allegedly kept ATF agents in Mexico out of the loop about a botched gun trafficking investigation that resulted in numerous weapons going to Mexico’s drug cartels, with almost 122 weapons being recovered there.  The ATF’s program, dubbed “Fast and Furious,” allowed firearms to “walk” across the U.S. border into Mexico in hopes of tracing the guns and locating major weapons traffickers. The operation took a tragic toll when two firearms investigators say killed U.S. Border Patrol Brian Terry were linked to Fast and Furious.
 
In 2009 ATF devised the program to try and track straw purchases of firearms where a gun is legally bought but then illegally sold to another individual. A congressional investigation led by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, have revealed deep flaws in the program that was run out of the ATF’s Phoenix office. On Tuesday, current and former ATF officials are expected to testify before the House Oversight Committee about their frustrations with the program -- over being denied access to information about the Fast and Furious operation and being blocked on gun trace information about weapons that were being recovered in Mexico.
 
According to the report in March 2010, “ATF intelligence analysts told ATF and DOJ leadership that the number of firearms bought by known straw purchasers had exceeded the 1,000 mark. The briefing also made clear these weapons were ending up in Mexico.”
 
In a congressional report being released in conjunction with the hearing, the findings note, “ATF and DOJ leadership kept their own personnel in Mexico and Mexican government officials totally in the dark about all aspects of Fast and Furious. Meanwhile, ATF officials in Mexico grew increasingly worried about the number of weapons recovered in Mexico that traced back to an ongoing investigation out of ATFs Phoenix Field Division.”
 
The congressional report notes that ATF intelligence analysts notified the ATF’s attaché in Mexico, Darren Gil, and Carlos Canino, deputy attaché, about a large number of guns showing up in Mexico from the Phoenix field office investigation.
 
“Hundreds of weapons were suddenly appearing in Mexico -- traced to Phoenix -- without explanation. Gil and his agents struggled to get answers from their own agency. Although ATF officials in Phoenix and Washington, D.C., acknowledged that an investigation was underway, they refused to share the details of the strategy and operation with the agents in Mexico…ATF officials in Mexico finally realized the truth: ATF was allowing guns to walk. By withholding this critical information from its own personnel in Mexico, ATF jeopardized relations between the U.S. and Mexico,” the report noted.
 
The Tuesday hearing intends to examine why ATF was knowingly allowing the guns to travel south to Mexico. According to the report, in an interview with committee investigators the Mexico Deputy Attaché Carolos Canino said, “There was no gray area here. We knew that these guys were trafficking guns into Mexico. There is no gray area. They weren't trafficking, [the] guys weren't going out and buying two Larson 22 pistols. These guys were buying 7.62, 223's, .50 caliber rifles, okay, there was no mistake about this.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

ATF Head: Not Sharing Weapons Tracking Info 'Eye-Popping'

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Interviewed by congressional investigators earlier this month, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Ken Melson agreed that the allegations that federal agencies weren’t sharing information regarding the Fast & Furious program were “eye-popping,” according to transcripts of the interview exclusively obtained by ABC News.

In the controversial Fast & Furious program, the FBI allowed assault weapons to be trafficked across the Mexican border in order to try to locate criminals. But many of the guns have since shown up at crime scenes in the U.S. One theory investigators are exploring is that the ATF agents were unknowlingly selling weapons to straw purchasers created by the FBI using informants and maybe even taxpayer money.

Melson was asked about this -- politely called an “interagency communication issue” -- when he testified behind closed doors to congressional investigators over Fourth of July weekend. In the below excerpt from that testimony, Melson describes a conversation with the deputy attorney general (DAG) Jim Cole on July 16, the day after the ATF hearing on the Hill. “IG” is a reference to the inspector general who is investigating the Fast & Furious case internally at the Justice Department.

Below is the relevant exchange:

Q: Do you have any concerns that because you raised the interagency communication issue with the DAG and also with the IG that you might be viewed as speaking out of turn.

MELSON: Well, I guess I have -- I have got concerns about talking with you about it, as well as pushing it as I have in the Department, because it could be a very sensitive issue.  I don't know.  Better communication with them would have helped me understand how sensitive it is, if it is, or what the ramifications of its disclosure is. I mentioned it to the DAG's office in good faith to try and avoid further damage to the Department or the government if this thing is as you have laid it out and it unravels and the American public sees ATF investigating straw purchasers and another agency working the money angle and the ordering of the weapons.  I mean, that would make us look pretty silly, I think.  So my mention of it to the DAG's office was simply to let them know, to give them a head's up so if this was occurring, they could figure out what to do with it.  And we weren't getting any responses.  I'm still concerned about it.  I'm still concerned about not just what was done, but what could be ongoing as well.

Q: When I first heard about the information sharing issues, my eyes nearly popped out of my head.

MELSON: Well, so did mine.

Q: I'm curious when you communicated that to the DAG, did his eyes pop out of his head, did he think this was a big problem.

MELSON: I can't tell you what he thought or how he thought.  But he simply said, "We will have to look into it."

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) who is investigating the operation, has accused the Obama administration of "stonewalling" his efforts. "This administration, at the highest levels approved a process that allowed thousands of high-powered weapons...to go to the worst of the worst on both sides of the borders," Issa told Fox News last month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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